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The Insiders: It is a myth that Obamacare is “working”

Brochures about the Affordable Health Care Act at the Enroll America headquarters, March 25, 2014,in Washington, D.C. (Evelyn Hockstein/The Washington Post)

As Election Day approaches, President Obama and his allies have been repeating a common refrain on the campaign trail and in the mainstream media that the Affordable Care Act is “working.” In his speech at Northwestern University last week, President Obama said that, “while good, affordable health care might seem like a fanged threat to the freedom of the American people on Fox News, it turns out it’s working pretty well in the real world.” Vox’s Ezra Klein similarly accused Republicans of trying to paint Obamacare in a bad light in his piece entitled “In conservative media, Obamacare is a disaster.  In the real world, it’s working.” And in an embarrassingly fawning piece in Rolling Stone magazine, New York Times op-ed columnist Paul Krugman had nothing but praise for the president – and Obamacare in particular – saying, “here we are, most of the way through the first full year of reform’s implementation, and it’s working better than even the optimists expected.”

Well, that all depends on what they mean by “working.” Enough of the happy talk.

There is a big difference between “working” and “having some effect.” Of course Obamacare is having some effect – how could it not?  Millions have lost the insurance plan they had and liked, millions have lost access to the doctor they had and liked, millions aren’t covered at their most convenient hospital, and millions have had to scramble to recover from the damage done by Obamacare. The law is having an effect, but in the real world, the effect is not positive.

In a recent Gallup poll, 27 percent of Americans say that Obamacare has hurt them, and only 16 percent say Obamacare has helped them and their families. And 46 percent overall believe “the law will make the U.S. health care system worse in the long run.”

Obamacare is costly, burdensome and unsuccessful. Bloomberg Government Analysis estimates that the website alone cost $2.1 billion and counting. That amount of money could pay for tens of thousands of people to be insured for life with premium plans. Further plan cancellations are forthcoming, and those people will have to face the painful experience of navigating the limited Obamacare networks to sign up for health care that costs more and provides less.

They say Obamacare is working. But the millions who lost the plans they liked have not had those plans reinstated. Obamacare hasn’t insured a meaningful share of the uninsured – which, oh by the way, was the original reason given for why we have to endure this trauma in the first place. And worst of all, with very few exceptions, Obamacare hasn’t made health care more affordable or more accessible.

The notion that Obamacare is working as advertised, that it is working as intended and that it is working to better the lives of most Americans is absolutely false. The assertion that Obamacare is solving a problem bigger than the problems it has created is the big lie of the 2014 campaign.

Despite the spin, hyperbole and partisan deceit from the Democrats, Obamacare is hardly a victory. If they want to continue declaring that the law is “working” and defending it on the campaign trail, good for them. Yes, Obamacare is having an effect – but it is not working.

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